Policy Purple State Governor & 2024 Presidential Prospect Proves He’s No Moderate Patrick Gleason Contributor Opinions expressed by Forbes Contributors are their own. I cover the intersection of state & federal policy and politics. Following New! Follow this author to stay notified about their latest stories.
Got it! Sep 9, 2022, 03:45am EDT | Share to Facebook Share to Twitter Share to Linkedin President Joe Biden talks with North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper and EPA Administrator Michael Regan, . .
. [+] after arriving at Raleigh-Durham International Airport. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh) Copyright 2021 The Associated Press.
All rights reserved. RALEIGH, N. C.
— As President Joe Biden’s approval ratings have dropped and with polls showing most Democrats want someone else to run in 2024, North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper (D) has begun receiving more national attention as a 2024 presidential prospect. Following the lead of another ascendant 2024 hopeful, California Governor Gavin Newsom (D), in recent weeks Cooper has escalated his castigation of Republicans. The Washington Post has referred to Cooper as “the leading contender you hear the least about.
” A profile in The Atlantic suggested Cooper “could offer a compelling balance to Vice President Kamala Harris as the white male Democratic governor of an important swing state. ” The New Republic described Cooper as “the living, breathing antonym of controversy” and “a soft-spoken, salt-and-peppered licensed attorney whose drawl alone tells any born-and-bred North Carolinian that he came up well east of the capital of Raleigh. ” Indeed, Roy Cooper is often portrayed as a moderate, both in style and substance.
This centrist perception is widely considered key to Cooper’s political success in a state where the Republican Party has been on the rise for 30 years. Yet this perception of moderation no longer squares with reality. Roy Cooper has begun sounding a new, harsher tone in recent weeks, one that it will make it difficult for anyone to continue tagging him as a moderate.
Take the August 19 interview with his local NPR member station, during which Cooper sounded more like an MSNBC pundit or a Slate writer than the governor of a large, purple state. During that WUNC interview, Cooper claimed the United States Supreme Court is controlled by former President Donald Trump. Cooper then went on to say that Republicans in the state legislature, who he’ll need to work with if he’s to accomplish anything during his final two years in office, want to take voting rights away from North Carolinians.
There is a problem with Governor Cooper’s allegation that the U. S. Supreme Court is beholden to or controlled by the former president, which is that it’s well documented to be out of step with actual events.
In fact, Donald Trump publicly lambasted the three Supreme Court justices he nominated for refusing to go along with his efforts to challenge the 2020 election results. MORE FOR YOU Biden’s Proposed IRS Bank Account Snooping Authority Runs Into State Resistance 2021 Diversity Green Card Lottery Winners To Be Shut Out Because Of Visa Deadline The Swamp Grew – Even Under President Donald Trump When asked how those events square with Governor Cooper’s assertion about Trump’s influence over the court, Cooper’s staff did not respond. While Cooper’s recent remarks indicate he is moving away from moderation when it comes to style, new developments show he is also veering away from the center when it comes to policy.
Cooper Backs Ruling That Would Trigger Constitutional Crisis The North Carolina Supreme Court heard oral arguments on August 31 for a longstanding case in which the Cooper administration is advocating for an outcome that would result in a constitutional crisis. That lawsuit, commonly referred to as the Leandro case, will determine whether a judge can order state officials to authorize new spending that was not approved by the General Assembly. In this case, Cooper wants the North Carolina Supreme Court to force state Controller Nels Roseland, a Cooper appointee, to take an action that he says would breach his oath of office and open him up to criminal charges.
GOP leadership in the General Assembly, who have intervened in the case, point to language in the state constitution that assigns such spending authority to the legislature, not the courts. Speaker Tim Moore (R) and Senate President Pro Tempore Phil Berger (R) have pointed to the appropriations clause of the North Carolina Constitution which clearly states “the power of the purse is the exclusive prerogative of the General Assembly,” according to a 2020 state Supreme Court decision. This provision has been part of the North Carolina Constitution since its ratification in 1776.
In supporting the Leandro plaintiffs, Cooper seeks to take education spending decisions out of the hands of the Republican-led General Assembly. He wants courts to force the state to adopt his preferred spending plan, called a comprehensive remedial plan, which was developed by San Francisco-based consultants working in conjunction with Cooper’s allies. Sam Hayes, General Counsel for Speaker Moore, stated that “This is a blatant power grab by Governor Cooper.
The Governor is trying to achieve through litigation what he could not through the legislative process. Despite plaintiffs’ claims, the Comprehensive Remedial Plan drafted by a California consulting firm and paid for by the Cooper Administration is not the only way to fund education in this state. That is for the citizens of North Carolina, through their elected leaders, to decide.
” Democrats Back Lawsuit Seeking To Overturn Ballot Measures Approved By Voters Democrats currently hold a 4-3 majority on the North Carolina Supreme Court. But, with two state Supreme Court seats currently held by Democrats up for a vote this November, there is a good chance that majority will soon be lost to Republicans. Meanwhile, Republicans control the General Assembly with near super-majorities.
With time likely running out on their state Supreme Court majority, on August 19 Democrats on the high court issued what many consider to be one of the most controversial state supreme court rulings anywhere in the U. S. in recent history.
In that August 19 decision, the North Carolina Supreme Court ruled 4-3 along partisan lines against two constitutional amendments overwhelmingly approved by voters in 2018. The court ruled in favor of the plaintiffs, the NAACP, who allege that because the two measures were placed on the ballot by legislators from gerrymandered districts, that means the two amendments are illegitimate even though voters overwhelmingly approved them. The four Democrats on the state Supreme Court remanded the case back to the trial court, instructing the lower court to make a new determination in the case based upon a brand new three-part test that was invented out of whole cloth by the Democratic justices.
One of those constitutional amendments enshrined a voter ID requirement . The other amendment lowered the state personal income tax cap from 10% to 7%, which was a relatively uncontroversial proposal seeing as North Carolina’s personal income tax rate is currently a flat 4. 99%, scheduled to go to 3.
99% in a few years. Since the reduced income tax cap wouldn’t even come into play, which was also the case in 2018 when the rate was 5. 75%, it is noteworthy that Governor Cooper opposed the income tax cap amendment.
The only logical reason to oppose that amendment, after all, is because one thinks the personal income tax rate should be above 7%, which would be 40% higher than the current rate and 75% higher than where the rate will be in a few years. Despite Cooper’s opposition, more than 57% of the electorate voted for the measure to reduce the income tax cap, while the voter ID measure received 55% support. The August 19 state Supreme Court decision to overturn the will of millions of voters who supported those two measures was praised by progressive politicians and commentators.
Leaders of one progressive North Carolina organization ironically touted the ruling as a triumph for democracy. “Four Democratic justices have all but thrown out the legitimate votes of millions of North Carolinians in a brazen, partisan attempt to remove the voter ID requirement from our Constitution and deny the people the ability to amend their own Constitution,” Senator Paul Newton (R), chair of the North Carolina Senate Finance Committee, said in response to the August 19 state Supreme Court ruling. The August 19 ruling in the NAACP lawsuit, which is backed by Governor Cooper and other leading North Carolina Democrats, were it taken to its logical conclusion, would have enormous consequences for public policy in the nation’s ninth most populous state.
Were the logic of the August 19 ruling to be equally applied to other laws passed by legislators from gerrymandered districts and not just constitutional amendments, then many significant laws enacted over the past decade would need to be repealed. For example, major reforms have been made to North Carolina’s tax code since Republicans took control of the General Assembly more than a decade ago. Should the North Carolina Supreme Court’s August 19 ruling be taken to its logical conclusion, North Carolina would need to go back to the tax code on the books in 2012, when the state was home to the highest personal and corporate income tax rates in the southeastern United States.
If North Carolina were to go back to the pre-2013 tax code, North Carolinians would see their top personal income tax rate rise from 4. 99% to a 7. 75%, while the corporate income tax would more than double, going from 2.
5% to 6. 9%. Joe Coletti, previously of the John Locke Foundation and now oversight staff director for the North Carolina House Majority, calculated how much North Carolinians have saved because of the tax reforms enacted over the past decade.
According to Coletti’s calculations, since 2013 North Carolinians have held onto $18. 9 billion in income that would’ve gone to state coffers had it not been for the tax code overhaul enacted by the Republican-run General Assembly. That savings figure doesn’t even include the last income tax cut that was part of current the budget enacted in late 2021.
Whereas Governor Gavin Newsom has made a name going after Republican governors whose states are among the top destinations for ex-Californians, Governor Roy Cooper has directed his barbs toward in-state Republicans, at least for now. When asked in a recent CNBC interview to explain how he has found common ground with the Republican-run legislature, Governor Cooper didn’t talk about the bipartisan budget they recently enacted that will increase the job creating capacity of employers. Cooper instead responded by touting all the areas of disagreement between he and Republican lawmakers.
Maybe it’s due to presidential ambitions. Perhaps it’s because of his new role as head of the Democratic Governors Association. No one other than Governor Cooper and those closest to him know the real reason why he has begun to sound a more venomous tone toward Republicans with whom he’ll need to work during the remainder of his time in office.
That such a shift in tone has occurred, however, is undeniable. Follow me on Twitter . Patrick Gleason Editorial Standards Print Reprints & Permissions.